Help With Paying Fines or Tickets

Fines and tickets are not things you can ignore as they can become very costly. If you have recently received or have a outstanding ticket addressing it straight away is important. If you are experiencing financial issues and don't have the means to pay a ticket or fine in full, there are a handful of things you can do to ease the pressure of the payment and avoid interest or late charges.

Common Fines
In the US, there are many different fines that can be imposed on you for one reason or the other and below are the most common.

  1. Traffic violations – These include moving violations, tint and accessory violations, accidents, and parking violations
  2. Fare Evasion Fines – These include things like avoiding the turnstiles on metro buses or trains, driving through toll roads without paying, and not paying taxis.
  3. Littering fines – These fines will vary from state to state but littering fines can seriously pile up. They can range from $20 - $30,000.
  4. Disorderly conduct – These fines come around when you are being a nuisance to the public such as when you are under the influence of drugs or alcohol, making too much noise, lewd behavior, offensive behavior, loitering, and harassment.
  5. Court Fines – These fines are issued when you skip out on a court date or if you are in court and are held in contempt. These fines can be quite hefty and depending on the reason for going to court, they can even carry some prison or community service time.
  6. IRS Fines – The Internal Revenue Service has a long list of fines that they can and do charge people with including failure to file or late filing, late payment, accuracy fines, withholding information, excise taxes, tax fraud and much more.

If you leave fines unpaid, there are numerous negative consequences that may occur. Here is a list of some of the things that could happen.

  • Late fees tacked onto your fine (this could be interest or a set amount)
  • In extreme cases you can be arrested
  • Suspension or cancellation of your driver’s license or vehicle registration
  • Negative marks on your credit file
  • Having your tax return withheld
  • Wage garnishment or repossession of certain assets

What to Do
If you find yourself in these types of situations, you should do a few things. Firstly, don’t bury your head in the sand. If you can afford to pay the ticket do so, if you are going through some financial issues and don’t have the money, try one of the following:

  • Ask for a fee waiver (this is generally for those on a provable low income)
  • Contact the ticket agency or debt recovery agency and discuss a payment plan
  • Contact the ticket agency or debt recovery agency and ask for an extension
  • Get professional help to assist you with finding alternative options. Search online for legal or non-profit services that assist with fines and tickets.
  • If the only option is to pay the fine and don't have the funds, try contacting a local charity or non-profit for assistance.

If you want to challenge a fine or ticket, here are some tips:
You need to gather evidence to help your argument towards why the ticket or fine is invalid or wrong. The more practical evidence you can gather the better.

- Take photos: Road signs may be unclear or there may be a lack of road signs to know that you need to adjust speed.
- Meters: Perhaps a meter was/is broken; take a photo to prove this.
- Road Markings: Markings can sometimes be faded or covered by dirt, snow, etc; take a photo to show this
- Human error: Parking attendants may not see your ticket in the dashboard or perhaps it had fallen out of sight.
- Challenge sooner than later, in some instances fines may be reduced if paid straight away. If you challenge fails you still may be able to receive a reduced fine if paid inside of the discounted payment period. (more applicable in the UK)